Gallery wrapped, canvas prints.
Lick, or Leck, Castle was built in the 15th century around the same time as many other 'castles along the North Kerry coastline. The full name in Irish is "Leac Bábhún," (Slab Enclosure) anglicised Lickbevune, probably to distinguish it from Leac Snamha (The Slab Beneath the Water) or Lixnaw Castle.
The tower houses along this coastline belonged to various members of the Geraldine family, planted in the Shannon Valley at the close of the 12th century.
The race were given grants by King Richard I and later grants of lands in Iveforna (O'Dorney) and Ivefarba (Ardfert) by King John. They sprang, it seems, from a nephew (Raymond) of Raymond le Gros (so named because of his corpulent body), son of William Fitz Gerald, Lord of Carew Castle ; the younger Raymond was father of Maurice, who married Johanna Fitz Henry - heiress of Rattoo, Killury, and Ballyheigue. Their son Thomas Fitz Maurice was first Baron of Kerry.
The line of these lords had held their lands for nearly two centuries before the family of Lickbevune budded from the parent stem. Richard, second son of Maurice the sixth Baron, was its founder; his father died and was laid with his fathers at Ardfert in 1398. During the following century the Clan Richard flourished and probably built Lickbevune, but the records are lost.
At last, in 1568, we read how James, son of Maurice Fitz Gerald, and others marched against Mac Maurice (Thomas Lord Kerry, son of Edmond) on behalf of the Geraldines, at that time imprisoned in London, and beset Mac Maurice closely in Lixnaw Castle. At last a sally became inevitable "to win the portion of Ireland under the feet of their enemies." The besiegers were unprepared and disastrously routed, leaving among their slain, John, son of Garrett Fitz Gerald, the heir to Lickbevune.
Again in 1582, the sons of Mac Maurice Lord Kerry plundered Ardfert. The English commander, Captain Acham ("Hatsim" as the Irish called him), without waiting for aid, attacked them with his little garrison and was defeated. Mac Maurice was a pretended adherent of the English; but he could not resist the temptation, and joined the rebels openly. Thus reinforced, they captured and destroyed the castles of northern Kerry; Lixnaw (Leac Snamha), Listowel (Listuathail), Beal (Béal), and Ballybunnion (Baile an Bhuinneanaigh) castles fell before them; and the raiders retired into the woods.
Captain Zouche (Siutse in Irish Annals), exasperated by the raid, took a prompt and terrible revenge; he held the children of some of the Geraldines, and put these innocent hostages to death. He next, a less easy task, cleared the forests, herding the rebels before him and trying to take Mac Maurice; he also reinstated the lawful owners in their dismantled towers among the rest the master of "Leac Bábhún, which was left desolate." He wasted the corn, mansions, and buildings of the insurgents, and found their hidden treasure and plate as easily as if the (Queen's) English themselves had concealed them. After these acts of vengeance, he returned to England that August, and soon afterwards "fell in a conflict."
The Desmond Rebellion of the following year gives us but little help for "Irraughte Iknoughor," (Iragh Ti Connor - The Inheritance of O'Connor) and none for the coast castles; but a map of about the same date by Baptisto Boazio marks "Castle Manian" at Ballybunion; while Speed's map of Munster, in 1610, shows "C" (castle) "Diane" (Bialle); " Lactevon " (Lacbevon) and "Castle Manian" as held by the Baron of Lixnay. The castle had reverted to (or perhaps was held under) the heads of the Fitz Maurice family. These had passed through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, holding their own with difficulty against the vast power of the Earls of Desmond.
Thomas, the sixteenth Lord of Kerry, like many other nobles of his generation, had a romantic career, to judge from the few details remaining. On the death of his uncle and predecessor, the next of kin seized on the lands, the lawful successor being abroad, serving in the Imperial Army near Milan. A faithful old nurse sought him, and at last brought him home, when, with no little clanger and difficulty, he recovered his rights by 1553. "Thomas Fitz Maurice Baron Lacksnaway, vulgariter vocatus Baron de Kerry," as the Parliament Roll called him, he was (as we saw) of wavering loyalty till his kinsman's temporary success turned the scale, and he crowned his many lapses by open rebellion in 1582. He died on 16th December, 1590 aged 88 years. He was buried in the tomb of bishop Phillip Stack at the Cathedral of Ardfert having been refused permission to be buried in the tomb of his ancestors by the Governor of Munster, John Zouche. Thomas' son Patrick succeeded him. He also ended by joining the rebellion of the Sugan Earl in 1599. Bringing 500 foot and 30 horse against the English forces, he dismantled his castles of Béal and Lixnaw in 1599, and died broken-hearted on the 12th August, 1600, at the destruction of the latter fortress.
His son Thomas, the eighteenth Lord, succeeded to a wasted heritage and a vain resistance; his raids made his prospects more hopeless; his chief castle, Listowel, surrendered. Lixnaw was again destroyed by Sir Charles Wilmot, and "Berengary" (Ballingarry), held by his brother-in-law, Gerald Stack, was surrendered, and its chief defenders put to death in 1602. In despair he sought the mediation of a generous enemy. The Tudor Lioness had died, and he threw himself on the mercy of King James.
The new king desired peace, and granted Lord Thomas pardon, in October, 1603, and his castles and lands, 1604; among the rest the Castle of Ballyvonianagh (Ballybunion). In 1612 he got a patent in confirmation of his castles, towns, and lands of Béal and Ballenvonianige (Ballybunion), the fisheries in the Cashen and Feale; the lands of Myneolane, Mynekavane, Glanedahlen, Cahir-meade, and many others. He died in 1620.
His son Patrick, the 19th Lord of Kerry, retired to England, after rebellion broke out, and stayed there until his death in 1660, He saved his lands, but died four months before the Restoration; his son,William, succeeded.him as the 20th Lord of Kerry.
The ruins of Lick Castle stand in a fine position, on a long, low headland hardly 100 feet high, getting lower to seaward. Bounded to the south by sheer cliffs and girt by long reefs, it forms a picturesque coast-mark. There is nothing to show that a fort preceded the castle, but the probabilities are considerable. The headland was tunnelled by the sea in two places; the landward arch collapsed, leaving a cleft 21 feet wide, with parallel sides, like artificial walls, and the tower and side building rose on the edge.
The whole headland is about 365 feet long, once being joined by a natural arch to the castle. On the mainland, about 200 feet to the south-east of the castle, we find on the edge of the cliff a low earthwork, 105 feet to 84 feet, by 60 feet to 66 feet wide, with a lesser mound, 57 feet long inside, to the south-west, partly defaced by the modern ditch and fence along the cliff. A row of five- forts (including those named Lissard, Lissahope, and Lisnaraha) crown the ridge of Faha between the castle and the road, but are of little special interest.